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Author Topic: [Vampire 2E Sabbat] Of Evil and of Simulationism  (Read 13304 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2006, 02:48:20 PM »

Hi Frank!

I want to know about the evil, and how it was different from the evil. What happened in play, meaning among the characters in the fictional situation, that made that distinction?

Yes, I am asking you to "tell me about your character," from a Vampire game. Before anyone falls over dead from shock, keep in mind, I trust Frank. He's good at this stuff and won't bore us.

Best, Ron
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Frank T
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« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2006, 08:02:08 AM »

Damn, Ron, you are putting some pressure on me. ;-)

So, of the evil. Understanding that Alexandre was evil is only one part of what made him so fascinating to me. The other part was that he had some pretty heroic features about him, in his own way. In his mortal life, he was a weak but daring man. He got exiled from his home, abdicated, and eventually thrown to jail for living life his way. In staying true to himself and his conviction, he showed real bravery, in a MacBeth “I will not yield” kind of way. It was utterly satisfying to see him emerge as leader of the pack after the Camarilla struck back and killed our sires. He was never one to back down, even if chances were slim.

So Alexandre grows up as the son of the governor of Martinique. Even as a child, he is brilliant, an artist, but his art is warped and sick. He is a sadist, not in the way of a functional SM relationship governed by respect, but in the KZ overseer way. He enjoys having power over other beings, to cause them pain and terror. This, to him, is the ultimate freedom. This, his poems of the time are about.

He gets all kind of treatment to cure him, and is finally exiled to New Orleans where he studies philosophy and develops his ideas further. Many feel drawn by his charm, subterfuge and the allure of the forbidden. He has to spend some years in prison and learns to treasure freedom even more. He becomes sick, suffering from a liver damage (probably due to alcohol and drug abuse), which causes him unbelievable pain. He has also lost all his money and lives homeless in the streets. At that time he is writing his most inspired poems, about the beauty and fragility of life. Alexandre is not a cynic, he is thirsty and compassionate. Shortly before he would have died in agony in a poorhouse, his sire transforms him.

That was the backstory from whence I started the game. In the game, I seized every chance to express Alexandres warped nature. I totally embraced the Sabbat philosophy of “mortals are just toys”. The same went for the Werewolves and Camarilla vampires we captured. In interrogating/torturing them, in feeding on mortals, or other similar instances, I proved a sophisticated cruelty that went beyond simple intimidation and was intended to cause a maximum of terror, pain and utter desperation. There is this discipline in Vampire that lets you form flesh and bone, which totally fascinated Alexandre. Just think about having your spine twisted and your vertebrae sprouting thorns that pierce your flesh…

Now, most of this isn’t that impressive if you play in that adolescent “we are so brutal and laugh about it” way. But if you play as intense and serious as we did, it’s scary as shit. Often in those stupid kid kind of games (that probably inspired kpfs), your character will do totally mindless but brutal stuff just for a shock and a laugh. But Alexandre was making perfect sense in his actions, and so were the victims. There was this one feeding scene where I lured this woman to my house, chained her down and made her realize slowly, very slowly, what I was going to do to her. We drew a veil at some point, but made sure to flesh out how I got rid of her bits and pieces afterwards.

When Alexandre infiltrated the Camarilla, he would stop at no lie, betrayal or manipulation, the more ruinous it proved to the personal relationships of others, the better. I don’t recall exact details, but in a way, this was deeper and more defiling than turning a frenzied Werewolf on helpless mortals. It was not just an act of remorseless cruelty. It was taking what people cared about, twisting it and turning it against them. Not only was I Macbeth, I also was Iago.

The philosophy of power = freedom is a classic, but if power is expressed through corruption, excruciation and rape, that’s the final escalation, especially if you actually argue your point in perfect logic. Alexandre understood the Sabbat’s cause, at a global scale, in bringing freedom to its members by destroying those who would keep them at bay. That was why he became absolutely devoted and loyal to the Sabbat as a cause, not through fear or personal ties, both of which were total strangers to him, but through pure abstract reasoning. All of this reasoning entered the fiction through dialogue, most of it acted out in character. So, evil on the basis of an ideology that makes perfect sense to itself, in a community supported by total loyalty to the cause, knowing no fear and no remorse and stopping at nothing. Much like Al’Quaida, actually.

- Frank
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2006, 07:05:55 AM »

Fantastic summary.

Tell me, what was feedback like among the group about issues of this kind? I don't mean deconstructive, analytical discussion after play. I mean during play, in terms of how people reacted and "replied," either through normal dialogue or through the medium of their characters and other aspects of play.

Did anyone else in the group provide such intensive portraiture with his or her character? If so, did your character and theirs come into conflict in any way?

Best, Ron
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Silmenume
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« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2006, 09:34:23 PM »

Hi Frank!

What a great thread!  Whether due to my poor writing skills or not, there was much in the description of your game, your interests, your processes that mirror my own current gaming processes.  I was reading the self-assessment of your character and was transfixed.  Wow.  That was a game I would seriously have loved to have sat in on, if not actually played.  I don't know much about New Orleans or any of the Vampire milieu so I don't know if I would have made the grade - especially since the grounding for your game seemed to spring, partly at least, from your love of history.  In my instance its a fanatical love of the works of Tolkien.

What mattered to you and the players, how it was handled, the IC and OOC elements were near carbon copies of my own experiences.  The philosophy that entered into the fiction via dialogue but mostly through the actions of the characters has my hands trembling with recognition.  Thank you for sharing and articulating what I have not been successful at.  Your complaint about how Sim has been characterized ("...because I don’t like how people are often associating Sim with boring pointless IC acting and actor-stance no-OOC “immersive” play.") so echoes my own particular frustrations. 

Finally I am so in debted to you for the summary -

    So, that's my Sim. It's meaningful and overflowing with conflict. It demands a lot of performance of the players. It says something about the players. It's far off of cinematic coolness posing without risk. It's far off of Illusionism and Participationism. It has no need for so-called "immersive" techniques, does well with meta-talk, scene-cutting and the like. It's far off of extensively detailed "realistic" rules (though Vampire rules have such tendencies, but we ignored them). It's intense. It rocks.

also

    Most of it was done through acting and description, but also by OOC comments like prompting a detail on your character’s background or the historical context. IC-dialogue was embraced, but players also drove for “spotlight scenes” where their character was doing something unique to them. The obligatory “feeding” scenes were often used for this. I had a part in which I seduced a woman and then played a sadistic, erotic and disgusting game with her that ended in her death. We were walking a thin line there, but it worked because we were close friends and knew each other very well. It was creepy and extremely thrilling to act out these scenes, and I was identifying with the victim almost as much as with my character.

I agree with all this 1000%.  The necessary trust that must exist between the players, the drive for "spotlight scenes" for the purpose to exhibit something unique as well as the visceral emotions roiling personally via those actions.... Wow!  Its an intensity that's almost like a high! 

Bah, my post probably hasn't been much help to you, but yours has been a tremendous morale boost for me.
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Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay
Frank T
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« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2006, 01:37:30 AM »

Jay,

I’m glad you like it. I certainly posted it with you in mind.

Ron,

Quote
Tell me, what was feedback like among the group about issues of this kind? I don't mean deconstructive, analytical discussion after play. I mean during play, in terms of how people reacted and "replied," either through normal dialogue or through the medium of their characters and other aspects of play.

Did anyone else in the group provide such intensive portraiture with his or her character? If so, did your character and theirs come into conflict in any way?

I think it’s nearly impossible to transport the full detail of a character like that into the SIS, so if the other players were telling you about the game, their characters would probably be more detailed and mine a little less so. Marco’s character had this Irish terrorist background, for which he looked some historical stuff up, and which came up in the discussions with the English nobleman NPC, and also in infiltrating anarchs from the Camarilla. I don’t recall it in full detail, but it was fuelled more by history and politics and less by philosophy and Shakespeare, reflecting Marco’s interest as opposed to mine.

Michael’s character was a tad more sketchy, I think that he was content, at the time, with bullying other people around and generally being a mean and ruthless fighting machine. So his somewhat dumb character was caught between the two big egos of Marco’s and mine, serving as a mirror and catalyst. There was pretty heavy conflict at points, and the GM was pouring oil into the fire through the conflict between the sires. Marco’s character was actually getting along better with the Camarilla anarchs than with his Sabbat pack. My character was ordering Michael’s around like the scum he was, and most of the time Michael decided to obey with gritted teeth, though ripping my throat out was a close runner-up.

Apart from heated IC discussions, there was also a lot of OOC commentary, much like it is encouraged through fan mail or similar mechanics, only without the mechanics. These were mostly just showings of approval of the other’s contribution. I really don’t recall if we also addressed the sickness of it all through this kind of commentary, but it was not really necessary since we were building on a strong foundation of close friendship and knowing each other really, really well.

Damn, now I’m getting all sentimental and tempted to quote Brian Adams, so I better stop.

- Frank
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2006, 04:32:41 AM »

Hi Frank,

If you quote Brian Adams, I will be forced to quote the South Park movie, and the geekery shall ne'er stop!

You certainly are providing a textbook of this form of Simulationist play, and a couple of the details really jump out for me to emphasize to others.

Quote
I think it’s nearly impossible to transport the full detail of a character like that into the SIS,

That's an interesting statement, because in many ways the reverse is also true. The cumulative, shared, interpreted version of the character who resides only in the SIS - and would be available primarily to an engaged observer - is usually not perceived by any single player, including the GM. To be clear, that's a general rather than Simulationist point.

Quote
a lot of OOC commentary, much like it is encouraged through fan mail or similar mechanics, only without the mechanics. These were mostly just showings of approval of the other’s contribution.

There it is, that's what's needed for this discussion - and in fact, it's the only real confirmatory aspect of the coherent Creative Agenda among a group, for purposes of discussing CA. When using a rules-set of this kind, I've been in and seen groups either use these signals either to reinforce the improvement mechanics (replacing the textual guides for assigning points, basically fanmail with a mechanic) or replace them nearly entirely as reward. In the latter case, improving the character is fun, but not related to the point of play.

Is that a Sim tell? No, not necessarily. It's certainly a Creative Agenda indicator, in that the group has one.

The emotions you describe at the end do providing an opportunity for me to make a good Sim point, though, and a chance to clear up a long-standing error, in case it's still kicking around out there.

Years ago, people were just tying themselves into knots trying to discuss Narrativist play, especially in conversations with Marco Chacon, who was incensed about The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast (and if I'm not mistaken still is, but that's his privilege). I and others tried lots of different angles. The one that stuck, for some people, concerned "emotional engagement."

Now, that was not a good definition; despite its close relationship to the concept of Premise, it doesn't define it. Any and all Creative Agendas are engaging among the group employing them, by definition, and "emotion" is too vague a term to separate from "engagement" (even "intellectual engagement" doesn't work very well as a contrast), so all sorts of red herrings were created. At that time, that argument did help a few people who were inclined only to be so engaged under Narrativist circumstances, which applied to several of us, and so things got even murkier.

Anyway, I'm bringing all this up to establish or confirm that "emotional engagement" is a powerful feature of CA and not a defining feature of Narrativism, if anyone still finds that a troublesome concept. Consistent engagement (of whatever sort, if there are different sorts) about what is then what leads to identifying the Creative Agenda, through the cycles of reward.

Thanks for sticking with my pushy questions, Frank. This is a great example of why Actual Play is better theory.

Best, Ron
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Thomas Lawrence
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« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2006, 05:53:54 AM »

This is a very interesting thread.

I wnat to make sure I've grasped something, if I may, Ron.

Quote
Consistent engagement (of whatever sort, if there are  different sorts) about what is then what leads to identifying the Creative Agenda, through the cycles of reward.

So, on differing Sim from Narr.

Narr CAs consitently engage with Premise (that is, the consistently engage with wider human issues in order to say something about them). A well-designed Narr-supporting System (whether textually written or developed within the group) actively rewards players who do this - reward being anything from "the Nod" to applause, to a mechanic like Fan Mail in PtA.

Sim CAs do not consistently engage with Premise. This is not to say they avoid it pathologically (which I think perhaps has led to much misinterpretation of Sim as rather empty) but merely that it is not their chief objective to asess and express ideas about human issues. Instead, their reward cycles are st up to express approval of actions which are in tune with a Dream.

The Dream itself may represent a position on a human issue that is not deviated from ("Let's all play a game in which we demonstrate how guns are evil") or it may be agnostic on human issues and instead treasure other ideals - either way, any actual addressing of human issues is not the point. A player who tries deliberately to address Premise in a Simulationist group will encounter frustration when the Theme they resolve their Premise into a Theme that contradicts directly with the Dream, and simple disinterest if the Theme does not relate to the Dream.

Does that make sense at all? I'm still very much a neophyte at this.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2006, 06:05:26 AM »

You're nailing it, Thomas! I'll add some details, but the basic answer is yes.

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Frank T
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« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2006, 06:08:52 AM »

Hi Thomas,

Quote
any actual addressing of human issues is not the point

I'd rather say it's not the primary point. That is an important distinction I have tried to illustrate in this thread.

- Frank
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Thomas Lawrence
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« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2006, 06:22:53 AM »

Yes, indeed, not the primary point is essntially what I meant - when talkign about "the point" I don't mean to say that there can't be secondary objectives, I'm simply saying that there is a primary one, which I called "the point". Your way is clearer, though.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2006, 06:27:51 AM »

Whoops, hit "post" by mistake. Here's the rest of it.

Hi Thomas,

Think of these as coloring-in stuff you said.

Quote
Narr CAs consitently engage with Premise (that is, the consistently engage with wider human issues in order to say something about them). A well-designed Narr-supporting System (whether textually written or developed within the group) actively rewards players who do this - reward being anything from "the Nod" to applause, to a mechanic like Fan Mail in PtA.

Single major caveat: all of that is observationally and definitionally correct, but it does not describe the actual sensation of doing so. No one has to state the wider human issue up-front. No one has to remind oneself to buckle down and analyze it, or say something about it in the abstract. There is no analysis built into the process of Narrativist play.

Also, all reward systems are ultimately social. The reward mechanics work insofar as they tap into that, or reinforce it, or give it a specific shape.

Quote
Sim CAs do not consistently engage with Premise. This is not to say they avoid it pathologically (which I think perhaps has led to much misinterpretation of Sim as rather empty) but merely that it is not their chief objective to asess and express ideas about human issues. Instead, their reward cycles are st up to express approval of actions which are in tune with a Dream.

Single minor caveat: "in tune with" can take many different shapes. In some cases, it's "emulate," in the sense of reproducing without errors or anything different from that starting Dream-stuff. In others, it's "tweak," in the sense of introducing material that's not in the starting Dream-stuff and enjoying the robustness of the Dream in dealing with that new stuff.

Quote
The Dream itself may represent a position on a human issue that is not deviated from ("Let's all play a game in which we demonstrate how guns are evil") or it may be agnostic on human issues and instead treasure other ideals - either way, any actual addressing of human issues is not the point.

Correct. I want to emphasize that the Dream can be about all sorts of things, as long as it's considered canonical by the group. Such things include:

- a genre or type of story
- real or imagined physical processes (the classic engineering approach)
- a psychological state or a social dynamic

People get pretty wrapped up in loyalty to one or another of these types of Dreams, and therefore wall themselves off as strongly as possible from groups with some other approach. I've found that to be a primary source of resistance against the idea that this is an identifiable Creative Agenda, because people are mistaking the differing fluids in the pitcher, which they have mixed themselves, very carefully, for the shape/type of the pitcher.

It is also very, very easy to mistake Simulationist play for the baseline Exploration that defines role-playing itself. That's why discussing Sim falls into synecdoche so very often. I've tried to articulate this in multiple ways for several years, and it's very hard for people to get through - especially those who favor Sim play.

Quote
A player who tries deliberately to address Premise in a Simulationist group will encounter frustration when the Theme they resolve their Premise into a Theme that contradicts directly with the Dream, and simple disinterest if the Theme does not relate to the Dream.

There's one more possibility - the Theme produced both relates to and is consistent with the Dream. Why wouldn't that work? Jam for everyone, right? It doesn't work because it's not socially recognized and reinforced, and hence no real reward system is in place. The player ends up being his or her sole audience member, and the prognosis for such a situation includes (a) bored incoherence, quite likely long-lasting; (b) Prima Donna behavior; and (c) usually developing from the previous, Typhoid Mary behavior.

Best, Ron
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Thomas Lawrence
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« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2006, 06:44:27 AM »

Single major caveat: all of that is observationally and definitionally correct, but it does not describe the actual sensation of doing so. No one has to state the wider human issue up-front. No one has to remind oneself to buckle down and analyze it, or say something about it in the abstract. There is no analysis built into the process of Narrativist play.

I entirely agree. The important thing is consistency in address of Premise, not consciousness of it. Obviously having the latter can aid the doing of the former, but it is not necessary.

Quote
Also, all reward systems are ultimately social. The reward mechanics work insofar as they tap into that, or reinforce it, or give it a specific shape.

Again, completely agreed. When I mentioned textual rules, the "(where the textual rules are incorporated as part of the social procedures of play)" was implicit, as it were :).

Quote
Single minor caveat: "in tune with" can take many different shapes. In some cases, it's "emulate," in the sense of reproducing without errors or anything different from that starting Dream-stuff. In others, it's "tweak," in the sense of introducing material that's not in the starting Dream-stuff and enjoying the robustness of the Dream in dealing with that new stuff.

Works for me. "Middle-Earth, but in the future" and all that. There are interesting questions, in "tweaker" group of Simulationists, of precisely what is tweaked, who gets to do it and how, but these are rooted at the level of Technique, I should think. I recall vaguely a thread somewhere on how one could unite Director Stance with Simualtionist goals that's starting to make a lot more sense now.

Quote
Correct. I want to emphasize that the Dream can be about all sorts of things... <snip>

All very true.

Quote
There's one more possibility - the Theme produced both relates to and is consistent with the Dream. Why wouldn't that work? Jam for everyone, right? It doesn't work because it's not socially recognized and reinforced, and hence no real reward system is in place. The player ends up being his or her sole audience member, and the prognosis for such a situation includes (a) bored incoherence, quite likely long-lasting; (b) Prima Donna behavior; and (c) usually developing from the previous, Typhoid Mary behavior.

Veeeeery interesting. That is very interesting indeed. I was having a conversation elsewhere about incoherent play and how it can still be fun provided someone does a lot of work to ensure everyone is kept rewarded, and this throws that into sharp relief indeed.

Thanks, Ron and Frank.

(I hope that isn't too much quoting, I know some places hate it if you overquote. I'll cut it down in future if people are finding it more annoying than elucidating)
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Silmenume
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« Reply #27 on: September 13, 2006, 01:16:17 AM »

Hey Frank!

I’ve been reading and pondering your posts as quietly mentally and emotionally as I could muster to try to become as aware as I can of the important “social” and “system” elements.

First I want to draw attention to some of your own observations that practically parallel my own play experiences.  You mentioned that watching the other players clawing their way to the surface as being “even more fun” than your own play at that moment.  I too experience similar states, especially when my playtime is extraordinarily difficult and stressful.  IOW I am sooooo wrapped up in dealing with the problems that I am facing that it isn’t until after that particular sequence that one has time to reflect and fully enjoy what has just happened.  For me, it’s a huge rush to play so close to the edge but the laughing and regaling does not happen until later.  Sort of like riding a roller coaster.  It can be scary as all get out when you are on the ride, but once it’s over you laugh it up and share back and forth with everyone else who was on the ride about how scary it was!  … gosh it really was exhilarating and fun!  A similar analogy might be the scary movie experience…  So in a sense, for me, watching other players struggle with their own problems and create some really neat or clever solutions (as you say react) is not only fascinating/entertaining in its own right but it also allows me a moment to catch my breath, decompress and consider how to react what has just transpired.  Does this ring true with you?  Do you have a different take on this?  If it does ring true do you think you might be able to articulate why it’s interesting to you?

How did you go about Character generation?  As you said you created your own characters.  Did you use templates from game books or was this more of a free form process where you sieved through the source material, your own knowledge of the history of the real New Orleans and created a character that then melded your own particular creative interests that you wished to bring to the game?  Was there much of a mechanical process that at times dictated what you could or could not create or was this again a matter of the group aesthetic acting as a guide to the process.  Was the GM much involved in the ongoing process as a co-creator as it were or was his role more of judge to just make sure that the character you did create did not wander too far outside the group aesthetic?  IOW was the GM’s role more of a gatekeeper giving you a thumbs up or down on your character work?  Did you “work” with the other players in this creation process with the idea of creating characters that would have certain roles within a greater campaign group or did they just provide some ideas that helped you come up with a really cool character?  Or was this initial phase of creation something that you did entirely solo but constrained your choices to stick within the shared aesthetic standards of the group.  IOW no one had direct input on your choices but you self limited so as to stay reasonably true to the source material, but then brought in a few new pieces to the canon?

That you really dug the atmosphere of your setting is something that I personally think is critical to this type of play.  I believe that the Setting is the wellspring from which all other elements of play (including or especially mechanics) spring forth in this particular mode of Sim play.  (Nods, for the moment, to Ron’s tripartite break down of Sim sub-categories(?).  I’m still pondering this particular issue but for the moment I am well content avoiding sparking additionally controversy on that particular topic.  I’m not looking to get dropkicked in the balls at the moment!)

Your statement that you yourself, as a player, had to become determined, focused, quick and deadly in your lines of thought because your character demanded it again mirrors my own particular mode of play.  I, too, do not consider this immersion but rather how the process of representing those traits if one wishes to in the SIS must happen.  If the character is a bastard he must be portrayed in the SIS via actions as a bastard.  It is simply not enough to say, “I do bastardly things,” but that you as the player must find the means, given the circumstances and the limitations of the Setting, to portray a convincing bastard to all the other players.  In my book I find this is effort to be extremely difficult but I also think this is exactly where the players are truly challenged and must reach deep creatively within themselves to accomplish.  I think that these periods of time are some of those moments where the players really do need to be “good.”  It is these moments that are treasured in the game process.  Do you find this to be true for you?  If not how where do you think that the core creative process shines the most or is the most demanding upon the player?  Again I think this is part of the reason you do enjoy, as you stated, watching how the other players play out intense or difficult moments.  Is this summary correct?  If not, why not?

That you were the “weakest” of the three characters but the most “powerful” within the SIS via your own creativity and ability to express those creative thoughts into concrete actions, as opposed to falling back onto mechanics, is a vital element of this mode of Sim play.  IOW your mechanical “short comings” had did not impinge on your ability not only to “play your character” to the fullest ability you could muster not did it impinge your ability to have a powerful influence game events.  IOW your own prowess as a player was the single most important element to your goal of power.  This too mirrors my own game experience.  We can and frequently do have the ability to have “low level” character and “high level” characters all working in the same scenario without the “low level” characters having any less of an opportunity to have an important impact on the SIS.  It’s the player that makes things happen, the “better” the player the more he will influence the SIS, less so the mechanical “power” of the Character.  Did you find this to be true in that game?  Do you agree with this or do you have your own opinions on this?

Given that you do need to express the nature of your Character through concrete action with in the SIS I noted that you did say that the actions you did take kinda freaked you out.  I find this is also true in my own gaming experience and is the primary reason I have a strong distaste for playing “evil.”  Please note this is not a judgment on your own character choices, but rather a statement of concurrence.  I do think that Character play like this does eventually get inside your head and can have powerful or even overwhelming emotional effects.  What are your thoughts on this?

I also noted that mechanics to a back seat to the internal logic of the player created SIS as well as the source material.  This to me is an essential element to this mode of Sim play.  IOW the players’ choices in play can have an effect on the mechanics either existing or new.  The SIS is the top priority and in the end the mechanics must “follow” play as opposed to leading play.  If a mechanic conflicts with the established SIS or the source materials it is either altered or junked all together.  To me, the implication is that mechanics are really a reflection of the Setting and the players actions in the SIS – which do effect the Setting in the long run.  Do you agree with this or have your own thoughts on this topic?

I found reading your “obligatory” feeding scenes quite interesting.  In my opinion I think they illustrate another important idea of Sim play.  While they are a “trope” that is brought into play so as to support and reinforce the aesthetic of this particular milieu your choices during these scenes expanding both the Setting and your own Character as well as having an effect on that particular “trope.”  It seems to me that you did not haul out this trope as a necessity in order to show that the game is indeed really a vampire game, but also an opportunity to challenge to the players to expand on these tropes thus expanding the Dream as a whole.  Do you think that these tropes helped in this fashion?  Did you find them to be opportunities to expand the Dream and explore some new avenues of creative moments as opposed to moments that you had to suffer through in order to fulfill the necessity of having vampiric feeding scenes so as to support the vampiric Dream?

I also agree that losing a fight meant losing as a player.  Not in a step on up way, but in a way that stems from having to think like your character and finding that at that moment you were incapable of portraying the character you had hoped to do.  IOW I did not have it within me to win…

I am growing weary, but I did want to note that fully and completely agree that Setting and system provide the context of play, but that during play proper the main focus was exploration of situation, character and color.

Finally do you have any thoughts why conflict is so important to this CA expression?  This I am deeply curious about.

Rawk on, Frank!
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Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay
Frank T
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« Reply #28 on: September 13, 2006, 02:44:39 AM »

Hi Jay,

Wow, that’s a lot of questions. To most of them, the answer is simply: Yes, I agree. Especially this assessment rings true with me:

Quote
It is simply not enough to say, “I do bastardly things,” but that you as the player must find the means, given the circumstances and the limitations of the Setting, to portray a convincing bastard to all the other players.  In my book I find this is effort to be extremely difficult but I also think this is exactly where the players are truly challenged and must reach deep creatively within themselves to accomplish.

Exactly my feelings about this mode of play. This can also lead to frustration if your skill forsakes you, if your character doesn’t work or if you just don’t get the reinforcing response you are hoping for. It’s crucial that the other players acknowledge you as the bastard you are being.

On playing an “evil” character: That was actually the only time I did that, and I never felt the need to do it again. It was certainly a powerful emotional experience. I think Alexandre was a superb villain. To get inside his head was challenging and fascinating, in the way that disgusting things often fascinate people. I was about 20 when I played in the game, so I was grown-up and stable enough that my personality was not endangered. Relating to Alexandre’s twisted thoughts that way, celebrating the great fiction and my player performance, and also sympathizing with Alexandre’s victims, all summed up to the fantastic play experience.

Regarding character generation, I think that Michael was the least familiar with the rules and setting, thus he created his character together with Maik, the GM. Marco also figured out the mechanical stuff together with Maik, but provided the background on his character himself. I did it all by myself, using the Vampire 2E core rules and the Player’s Guide to the Sabbat. I used the Toreador Antitribu clan description, Nature and Demeanor, and the Roads as inspiration, blended that with my own historical knowledge and creative vision, and thus made Alexandre. Linking the characters in the pack and creating the sires was entirely the GM’s part.

The role of conflict in this mode of Sim play was one major point I wanted to make in this thread. In the Vampire game, conflict was crucial to our enjoyment of play. Not in every scene, but overall, the conflicts were the motor of play, just as you’d expect in Gam or Nar play. They forced us to make choices, both tactical and thematical, thus providing us with the chance to portray, not to say prove, our characters. They were also making the Situations we explored interesting.

It is said Sim is all about Exploration, but not just any Exploration will do. It has to be meaningful to the players. In some cases, this meaning may come from emulating genre conventions or “coolness posing” or “tourism” or the “GM show” or a number of other things. In our case, however, the meaning came from those conflicts and choices, challenging us as players and creating opportunities for us to affect the SIS in important ways. Therefore, some people may confound this mode of Sim play with Nar or Gam because they think that “hard choices” are a telltale for Nar or Gam, whereas Sim can actually rely on hard choices just as much.

- Frank
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Frank T
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« Reply #29 on: September 13, 2006, 09:11:19 AM »

Oh, one more thing: What made the game such a blast was not only the shared Creative Agenda. That was prerequisite, as was knowing and trusting each other. But what really made the game a blast was compassion and player skill. Acting. Description. Alertness. Sensitivity. Knowledge. Creativity. Reasoning. Those guys just rocked.

- Frank
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